Aston Villa have moved a major step closer to signing Steve Sidwell after agreeing a £5.5million fee with Chelsea for the midfielder.
Villa boss Martin O'Neill has been linked with a move for the former Reading man since the end of the last season as he looks to bolster a squad light on numbers.
Sidwell has been virtually frozen out at Stamford Bridge after arriving on a free transfer from the Royals last summer.
The 25-year-old started just seven Premier League games for the Blues during a frustrating season.
Meanwhile, the imminent arrival of Sidwell has led to further reports that Villa are close to allowing unsettled captain Gareth Barry to leave the club.
The England international has been the subject of two bids from Liverpool and told O'Neill earlier in the week that he wanted to join the Reds.
"It might be difficult (to keep hold of him)," conceded the Villa boss.
"Gareth and I had a little chat when he got back from holiday and he has said he would fancy going to Liverpool.
"That's obviously a big setback to us, but the offer from Liverpool is just not acceptable."